The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Photo credit: Nick Shockey / nshockey.express@gmail.com
A letter from the editor
February 6, 2024

NIGHT RIDER

A student peers through the window March 23 on the bus ride home from City College. Photo by Robert Paul.
A student peers through the window March 23 on the bus ride home from City College. Photo by Robert Paul.

Get around without the cost of insurance or gas

Peter Crosta | Features Editor
[email protected]

People sit at a bus stop on a frigid night. It is 7:40 p.m. The sun is far enough below the horizon so that not even a golden glow remains.

The bus arrives on time. A handsome man sits in the driver’s seat. He smiles and helps a first-time passenger feed a dollar into the machine. People sit quietly, staring at anything that will send the message, “Don’t talk to me.” Street lamps make the fog glow orange against an azure sky.

The bus is a tour of the unappreciated beauty of an evening.

“The grand appeal is you can just sit there and zone out while you get there,” says first-time bus passenger Matthew Hudgins, 20.

The Yolobus 42 between Davis, Woodland, the Sacramento International Airport, Sacramento and West Sacramento, serves commuter students with a connection near the light rail stop near the K Street Mall.

“Do you have a MySpace?” a man in his early 20s asks the woman sitting next to him.

They have just met. Their insecure smiles make their mutual interest obvious. It is a stark contrast to the rest of the passengers.

“Don’t talk to me” props reveal the veterans of the bus. People employ a variety of methods to keep fellow passengers at a mental, if not physical distance: books, electronic gadgets and faking sleep.

Avoiding conversation is not friendly, but understandable.

Sometimes an approachable demeanor is a liability.

On a given night, the average (looking) City College student starts a conversation about the upcoming 2008 election, which quickly segues into the story about his first experience at a strip club and how he almost lost his virginity to a stripper, but it would have cost him $300.

Some stories about what happens on the bus are positive.

“One of my passengers gave me a glass angel,” says Edith Grabowski, a Yolobus driver of five and a half years. “He got on and gave me a big box. ‘It’s for being a good driver,’ the card said, ‘to an angel, from an angel.’”

A friendly but robotic voice announces the next stop, the Woodland County Fair Mall.

Most of the passengers get off.

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Somewhere too dark to see, the bus changes drivers. Grabowski gets on here.

Grabowski and the new driver know each other.

“It’s like a family environment,” Grabowski says. Her accent shifts from clear Northern Californian to a subtle Southern twang when talking to the new driver.

“Some [drivers] say one or two words, and some communicate. For me, it was quite easy to relate to my passengers,” Grabowski says.

The bus gets on Interstate 5 South, leaving Woodland. On a clear day, passengers have a view of the Willow Slough extending in all directions like an inland sea.

The bus comes off the causeway and enters the airport. Smokers try to get in one last drag when they see the bus approach. Three people get on with wheeled suitcases.

The bus continues to downtown Sacramento. Old Sacramento street lamps glow.

The few remaining passengers gradually vacate the bus as it makes its way up J Street.

The bus is not always empty. According to Erik Reitz, who tracks ridership information for Yolobus, the 42 had 61,156 one-way passengers in October 2008.

“It’s usually packed with business suits,” says Gabriel Medina, a City College student who depends on the bus to get to school.

Traveling up J Street, the bus passes a pawn shop next to a restaurant full of white linen table clothes.

“End of the line,” yells the driver. The next 42 will not be taking passengers for 30 minutes.

“It ends in the middle of nowhere in Sac,” Hudgins says.

Hudgins waits at a stop on L Street to catch the next 42 home. He gets on the next 42A to complete a full circle on the route.

A gaggle of girls get on at the stop in front of the K Street Mall. They sit in the back, squawking over the sounds of the engine, vent and passengers’ thoughts.

After a brief leg in West Sacramento, the bus gets on Interstate 80 West, taking its passengers back to Davis, where Hudgins completes his first full circle on the bus.

The bus is what one makes of it. Constant stopping to let people on and off and less direct routes compared to driving may deter some, but the views of the stark industrial complexes, illusory vastness of the slough, and charming new romances make the bus a place to enjoy the journey as much as reach a destination.

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